I met Rita Sepulveda (bio below) a couple of years ago. After subscribing to my newsletter, she won a gratis coaching session. We had a lovely conversation and have stayed in touch. She graciously agreed to guest blog. Enjoy!
One of my favorite books is The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis. It is a fictional story about a demon and his instructions to make his human victim absolutely miserable as he leads him to final destruction. One of the tactics is to keep his victim from having even a bit of joy. Here is a sample of his instructions for accomplishing the goal:
“you should always try to make the patient abandon the people or food or books he really likes in favor of the best people, the right food, and important books. I have known a human defended from strong temptations to social ambition by a still stronger taste for tripe and onions.” (Lewis, p.66).
I can relate to this book and this demon's tactic, because I really do like tripe and onions. My version of it is called menudo. Menudo is usually eaten at family gatherings. I love the flavors, the onion, oregano, Serrano chili peppers and the hominy. But one day a friend pointed out what menudo was, and so I gave it up for a long time,- many years. There were times when I couldn't hold out any longer, I would buy it in a can. It is easy to give up menudo from a can! There were other things I gave up too. Life got busy. I became a burned out and snippy person.
It wasn't until many years later, when visiting my friend Larry, there was a familiar aroma in the house. His mom Helen, had just made a large pot of menudo. I agreed to a small bowl, thinking, “I don't like this anymore, but I will be polite.” She brought out the onions, lemon wedges, oregano, and then she warmed up tortillas! I could almost hear celestial music as I finished my small bowl of menudo. A few years later, I moved to San Antonio, Texas. My Mexican relatives live here. My aunt invited me over to visit and there it was – on the counter – a tray that had diced onions, sliced Serrano peppers, lemon wedges, some oregano, and corn tortillas. She offered me a bowl of menudo, and this time it was not a small bowl. I took back my menudo.
Since then, I have had the opportunity to take back not only my menudo, but other things as well. I play the piano again. I have a garden. I enjoy the roses, and I sit and watch the cardinals, sparrows, grackles, pigeons and doves that show up. I grow an assortment of chili peppers and tomatoes. I make salsa, in fact I cook almost everyday. I do things on purpose. I protect my time. I read books that I enjoy, and spend time with people I love.
In spite of all of this effort, I am aware that it can all get buried again, so it is an everyday practice. For example, if go shopping at the mall for clothes, and I don't love the garment, absolutely love it, then I don't buy it. I don't care if it is marked down 70%. If a certain movie is popular, but does not interest me, then I am not going to waste 2 hours of my precious life sitting through something that I know doesn't interest me. I am learning to be a better steward of my time, interests, and preferences. So much of life is about doing things that I don't like: I pay bills, wash dishes, clean dirty kitchen counters, and listen to elderly relatives repeat the same story for the third or fourth time! I will continue to do those things and more. At times I will choose to sacrifice time and preferences for a loved one. Therefore and all the more reason, that when there is a choice, I will choose to nourish my soul.
I will be responsible for the nourishment that I need. I will do this for myself, and for the benefit of others too. Bad moods are contagious. I don't want to bring someone else down, just because I failed to do my part to take care of myself. I want to be an example of someone who was joyful and not grouchy. I want to be able to spread some joy.
What is your “tripe and onions” or “menudo”? What is it that feeds your soul with its flavors and nourishment?
If you are not eating your “tripe and onions”, then you might be eating more socially acceptable food, however, if the food does not nourish you, then a wonderful meal has been forfeited. This is not a big deal here and there, but with each compromise, you risk becoming closer to losing the ability to experience joy.
Rita Sepulveda is an avid reader. She teaches Language Arts and often quotes C.S. Lewis in her teaching lessons. She has a BA in Spanish Literature from California State University. She currently resides in San Antonio, Texas.
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